Reed College Catalog

The program in environmental studies (ES) is intended for students who wish to combine focused study in biology, chemistry, economics, history, or political science with interdisciplinary work on environmental themes across the natural sciences, history, and social sciences. Five courses of study are available, each concentrating in a home department with an environmental emphasis, augmented with cross-disciplinary requirements in ES. ES majors will be identified with their home department as ES–biology, ES–chemistry, ES–economics, ES–history, or ES–political science. An annually updated list of ES-approved courses and Environmental Studies Committee members is available on the ES website,

Admission to the Major

To be admitted to the ES program, students must obtain signatures of their academic adviser and the Environmental Studies Committee chair on their declaration of major form. Students should use this opportunity to discuss their proposed course of study with an Environmental Studies Committee member, ensuring that ES courses will be offered in the semesters proposed and that all of the major requirements will be met.

Requirements for the Major

A. Common ES Core Requirements

   1. ES–history and social sciences courses (four units). Any two from a–d:
      a. Economics 201 and one ES–economics course.
      b. One introductory political science course except 230 (220, 240, or 260–formerly 210/250) and one ES–political science course (except 386–415).
      c. Two units of history, including at least one ES–history course.
      d. Anthropology 211 and one ES–anthropology course.
   2. ES–mathematics and natural sciences courses (four and one-half to five units)
      a. Biology 101/102
      b. Chemistry 101/102
      c. One upper-level ES–biology or ES–chemistry course (numbered 200 or above).
   3. ES interdisciplinary requirement (one unit): Environmental Studies 300.
   4. ES thesis: Environmental Studies 470.

B. Home Department Requirements

Students must fulfill the following course requirements for their respective home departments (home department courses may be fulfilled by ES core requirements):

ES–biology major:

  1. Five units in biology at the 200 level or above, including at least one course from each of the department’s three “clusters,” one additional lecture-lab course, and at least one unit of ES–biology (Chemistry 230 can substitute for a half unit of ES–biology)
  2. Chemistry 201 and 202, Mathematics 111, and one of Mathematics 112, 121, or 141.

ES–chemistry major:

  1. Chemistry 201, 202, 230, 311
  2. Two more units from among the following: Chemistry 212, 316, 332, 333, 391, 392, Mathematics 211 (Mathematics 211 not offered after 2015–16).
  3. Physics 101, 102, Mathematics 111, and one of Mathematics 112, 121, or 141.

ES–economics major:

Seven units in economics. This must include Economics 201; 311 or 312; 313; 304 or 314; 351 or 352; and two additional units in economics (at least one of which is from Economics 315–469, excluding Economics 402).

ES–history major:

  1. Six units of history, including History 411 or 412 (the junior seminar). Three of the units are to be drawn from a list of ES–history courses. In addition, the six units would include at least one unit each in American history, European history, and the history of a region of the world other than America or Europe; and at least one would focus on the period before 1800 and one after 1800.
  2. Statistics: one of Mathematics 141, Economics 311 or 312, Political Science 311, Sociology 311, or Psychology 348.

ES–political science major:

  1. Six units in political science. This must include three introductory political science courses (220, 230, 240, or 260–formerly 210/250) and at least one upper-level ES–political science class.
  2. Statistics: one of Mathematics 141, Economics 311 or 312, Political Science 311, Sociology 311, or Psychology 348 (Political Science 311 cannot count as one of the six required political science units if used for the statistics requirement).

C. Junior Qualifying Examination

ES students are required to pass the junior qualifying exam in their home department, as well as a separate qualifying exam in ES.

D. Thesis

Students must complete a thesis with an environmental focus.

Environmental Studies 300 - Junior Seminar

Full course for one semester. This course for ES majors explores the way environmental themes can be analyzed from interdisciplinary perspectives. Course topics may change from year to year; the course may be repeated for credit when topics vary. Prerequisites: completion of or concurrent enrollment in all of the ES–history and social sciences requirements and both a and b of the ES–mathematics and natural sciences requirements. Conference.

Environmental Studies 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.